BEIJING, Jan. 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — As of January 8, China downgraded the management of COVID-19 from category A to the less serious category B infectious disease in light of the evolving epidemic. The Chinese government has optimized measures to combat the epidemic in accordance with the social and economic development – a move well received by many countries and believed to contribute to the economic recovery of the post-pandemic world. The measures include inbound travelers with no issues to report in their health declaration can enter China without being subject to quarantine. Many countries have signaled a welcome to Chinese tourists. In this issue, Global Times reporters talk with diplomats about their take on China’s recently revised COVID policy as well as its impact on bilateral cooperation.
China is a very responsible country in handling pandemic: Argentine ambassador
China has been very responsible in contributing to the handling of the pandemic and is undoubtedly the most supportive country for most emerging economies, Argentine Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja told the Global Times.
He noted that China is, today, one of the main economies in the world and represents one of the Latin American region’s main trading partners. Therefore, the new policy that China adopted on January 8 is "extremely relevant for our entire region because that will not only reactivate tourism, but will also accelerate commercial trips and official visits, which are very important for the relationship to continue to deepen," he stressed.
He told the Global Times that Argentina will not impose any restrictions or quarantine measures on tourists from China.
"We are very happy that China is advancing into this new stage and visits and tourism are resuming because until the pandemic began, it had become the world leader in outbound tourism," Narvaja said.
Argentine consulates in China are preparing to meet expected Chinese demand for travel. Applications for visas are increasing and there is a lot of interest from the Chinese public.
Narvaja did not forget to mention the impact of the recently concluded World Cup with Argentina clinching the famous trophy, acting as a major draw for Chinese people’s interest in visiting the country.
The government of Argentina is now developing a comprehensive plan to further promote tourism between the two nations.
This plan involves establishing direct flights, improving the speed of granting visas, and enabling electronic payment methods that are widely used in China.
During the interview, Narvaja expressed appreciation for the health-focused cooperation between the two countries, especially China’s provision of COVID-19 vaccines to the country during the pandemic. "Argentina highly values all health cooperation, both in supplies and vaccines at a time when it was very difficult to access them," he said.
According to the Argentine diplomat, even today in Argentina, the most widely used vaccine continues to be that produced by Sinopharm.
Since he arrived in China in 2020, Narvaja has dedicated himself to visiting more than 26 provinces throughout the country because he believes that subnational cooperation is essential due to the potential China holds with Argentina. "Undoubtedly, with the new regulations, I will be able to get to know the country in greater depth."
China’s optimized COVID policy a welcome gesture, facilitating economic cooperation: Nepali ambassador
China’s adjustment of its COVID policy is a welcome gesture, which symbolizes a move toward fulfilling the aspiration of China to open up further to the world for its modern and high-quality socio-economic development, Nepali Ambassador to China Bishnu Pukar Shrestha told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.
"The relaxation in international travel plays a significant role in trade promotion and increment, as well as a sustainable post-COVID recovery. When there is more travel, there will be more transactions creating more opportunities for socio-economic development," Shrestha said.
Shrestha noted to the Global Times the new arrangement will greatly facilitate economic cooperation as well as people-to-people exchanges.
It is obvious that a number of Nepalese business groups or students will come to China after the cancellation of quarantine for international arrivals, he said. "I am not sure about the exact group, but I am confident that there will be more exchanges of visits, delegations, entrepreneurs, think-tanks, academicians, media persons, students, artists, and the like in 2023," he said.
"In 2022, only a number of Nepali students entered China to resume their studies. We are thankful to the government of China for the cooperation and coordination accorded to Nepali students. Nepal is confident that China’s downgrading of the virus as a Category B infectious disease and implementing a relaxation of measures of COVID-19 will certainly help foster excellent bilateral relations between Nepal and China in the political, economic, and socio-cultural arenas, and at the people-to-people level," he stressed.
He said that China can invest more in prosperous areas such as trade, hydropower/energy, infrastructure development, connectivity encompassing vital components such as railways, roads, airports, mining, food/agro and herbal processing industries, and tourism and hospitality industry, and information and communication technology, among others.
"Both Nepal and China need to enhance bilateral relations through close and productive engagements in these areas of mutual interest based on the win-win principle."
The ambassador said that Nepal always welcomes Chinese tourists to experience the incredible beauty of Nepal.
"I believe that Chinese tourists travelling to Nepal will return home with fond memories and experiences from Nepal," Shrestha said.
Recent COVID response adjustment in China based on scientific, rational analyses: Pakistani ambassador
Pakistan welcomes China’s recent COVID policy adjustment and believes it will significantly contribute to the recovery and growth of the world economy, Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.
He said that Pakistan is opposed to the "politicization of the pandemic."
According to the Pakistani diplomat, the recent adjustments that China made are reflective of the latest pandemic situation and are based on scientific and rational analyses. The Pakistani people have noted the revised measures announced by China in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and they "welcome them."
"Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has made effective efforts to protect people’s lives and health. The recent adjustments are reflective of the latest pandemic situation and are based on scientific and rational analyses. It marks a decisive victory against the virus," he said.
"These changes will facilitate people-to-people exchanges between China and other countries, and will significantly contribute to the recovery and growth of the world economy," he noted.
Regarding the question of whether Pakistan will impose different measures on travelers from China, the ambassador stressed that "Pakistan is opposed to country-specific policies and politicization of the pandemic."
"We have always maintained that a response to a health crisis of a global nature must be based on scientific reasoning and logic, and to be tackled through close collaboration and international solidarity.
"So as we move forward, health authorities from China and Pakistan will continue their close collaboration and sharing of information to jointly address the evolving pandemic situation and adjusting our respective policies," he said.
Haque noted that he expects that cooperation between the two countries will further increase as China relaxes border controls.
"Our two countries will accelerate cooperation in a range of areas, including exchange of high-level delegations, enhanced B2B (business to business) travel, and an increase in people-to-people exchanges. We are also expecting major milestones in CPEC this year, including the inauguration of the new Gwadar International Airport and the ground breaking on the ML-1," he said.
According to the ambassador, China and Pakistan will celebrate 2023 as the Year of Tourism Exchanges, and relaxed border controls will enhance the flow of tourists from both countries.
New policy provides opportunities for trade, investment, tourism: Thai ambassador
Thailand looks forward to the return of Chinese tourists to Thailand, and Thai Consulates in China are also preparing for the resumption of tourist visa application submitted via tour companies, Ambassador of Thailand to China Arthayudh Srisamoot told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.
He said that Chinese passport holders can get 30-day visas on arrival in Thailand from now until the end of March 2023.
Chinese tourists accounted for almost one-third of Thailand’s nearly 40 million foreign visitors in 2019, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Thailand, on Monday, welcomed the arrival of thousands of Chinese tourists in its capital Bangkok, the first travel groups following China’s optimization of COVID-19 control measures which took effect on January 8.
Ambassador Srisamoot said that he believes China’s new policy will provide opportunities for increased trade and investment, tourism, and the resumption of frequent high-level visits between both sides, including the return of students to China.
"The policy certainly signals the progress of ‘back to normal’ and as the policy is gradually implemented, both sides should focus on ensuring safe travel. Thailand is now open for international tourists with certain entry rules in order to ensure both smooth and safe travel for all visitors. The easing of international travel and quarantine measures will facilitate greater interaction and enhance the cooperation between all sectors that have been delayed by COVID-19 for the last three years," he said.
Srisamoot told the Global Times that he does not expect an immediate surge of tourists after January 8, but relevant sectors and authorities have been prepared for the incoming tourists.
They expect that tourists will gradually return to Thailand after direct flights between Chinese and Thai cities resume and volume will reach or surpass pre-COVID levels.
Srisamoot said Thailand bases its COVID-19 policy on a scientific and non-discriminatory basis. Its new measures include testing on arrival for any passengers that have symptoms of COVID-19.